Thursday, December 01, 2011

Madame Tussaud, Lady Astor, Sherlock Holmes and Pies

I have to confess I have never really considered the origin of the waxworks at Madame Tussaud's, I just recall being freaked out by the Chamber of Horrors.  Marie Tussaud was born on this day in 1761 in Strasbourg. She was appointed art tutor to Elisabeth, the sister of Louis XVI until the Revolution and during the Reign of Terror she was given the gruesome task of creating death masks from the guillotined heads. Right.

This day in 1887 saw the publication of Conan Doyle's Study in Scarlet - the first in the series to introduce Sherlock Holmes. Again I veer off the point but Julian Barnes' Arthur and George is one of my all time favourites and is a firm favourite on my Christmas shopping list.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Lady Astor took her seat in the House of Commons on December the 1st 1919 having been elected on November the 28th. This by John Singer Sargent, courtesy as ever of Wikipedia:

December the 1st marks the anniversary of the signing of The Antarctic Treaty in 1959. Twelve governments agreed to make the uninhabited continent a scientific reserve. More details can be found here on the National Science Foundation Website.

Today is the feast day of Saint Eligius, the Patron Saint of goldsmiths, metal workers and coin collectors.

Food. Apparently today is National Pie Day, I have included a link to this wonderful blog I came across recently. Enjoy,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jonathan Swift, Monkey Closets, Churchill and The Flying Scotsman

Right. So I haven't been fully up to speed on my little blog. No kidding. I have been looking into fascinating dates but I just haven't got around to writing them up. Several things gave me the kick I needed today. Mark Twain's birthday, the origin of 'spend a penny', Churchill and completely not relevant to the actual day but some research I was doing led me to discover The Earl of Dundonald which led me to remember just how much I enjoy doing this.

Jonathan Swift was born on this day in 1667. I couldn't decide which link to include so I went for this fabulous image from the British Library.

November the 30th 1761 saw the birth of Smithson Tennant,  the English chemist who first identified the elements osmium and iridium; the first deriving its' name from the Greek word osme meaning odour, due to the pungent odour the latter from the Greek goddess Iris symnolised by a rainbow. Awfully long time ago but I like his approach.

I find myself quoting Mark Twain rather a lot. Samuel Clemens was born on November the 30th 1835. I am including this link here as I think is it just fabulous - his letter to Walt Whitman via the wonderful Letters of Note.

November the 30th 1874 is the birthday of Sir Winston Churchill. Again of course there are too many things to include here but I thought the link to his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 makes an interesting read.

Lucy Maud Montgomery  shares a birthday with Chruchill. She was born in Clifton, now New Jersey. Mark Twain said of Anne that she was  'the dearest and most loveable child since the immortal Alice.'

The steam locomotive The Flying Scotsman became the first train to officially exceed 100 mph on this day on 1934.

In 1936 The Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 was destroyed by fire. Again slightly off the axis but I love this story of the Victoria Regia lily. I love flowers. I also came across what seems to be the origin of the expression 'to spend a penny.' Crystal Palace housed the first public conveniences, also called Monkey Closets and there was a penny charge to use them. One source states that 827, 280 visitors made use of the service.

This wonderful image courtesy of Wikipedia.

November the 30th is St. Andrew's Day - the Patron Saint of Scotland. He is also the Patron Saint of Barbados, the island having gained its' independence from the UK on this day.

OK food. There was an article in  The Guardian today about odd coloured brussels sprouts. I love brussels sprouts and thought I would choose this.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ahem, Samuel Pepys, Walt Whitman and Big Ben

Right, yes. Slight deficiency of new post details. Actually it's been rather a comedy of errors. I would say funny but it's not particularly funny to lose internet access for a fairly keen internet shopper such as me.......

So my iphone went splash into a swimming pool and in yet another not so funny comedy moment someone tipped a glass of water over my shiny sleek keyboard. Hey ho.

So excuses over, wires back where they should be I am sort of getting my mojo back with regard to my neglected blog.

So, May the 31st.

As ever a true smorgasbord of interesting things, variety being the spice and all that I went for a bite size selection to highlight.

In 1578 King Henry III laid the first stone of the Pont Neuf in Paris, now the oldest bridge over the Seine.

On this day in 1669 Samuel Pepys made his final entry into his diary, his failing eyesight bringing to an end his monumental more than nine year work.

The monumentally wonderful Big Ben first rang out over London on this day in 1859.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, from The Illustrated News of the World, December 4th 1858.

May the 31st 1911 saw the launch of the hull of the Titanic in Belfast;  there are some amazing images here.

May the 31st is the birthday of one of my favourite favourite poets  - Walt Whitman. I faffed around thinking of a poem to add, I couldn't choose, so have a look here: A Child Said, What is the Grass.

Walter Sickert, Denholm Elliott and Terry Waite share this birthday - 1860, 1922 and 1939 respectively.

The Saint for the day is Saint Petronille, the recipe for the day involves the enormous amount of fun we have had recently picking cherries : 

Duck with sour cherry sauce followed by cherry clafoutis.

Ps. I just came across this via the wonder that is Twitter.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hans Christian Andersen, Emile Zola & Sir Alec Guinness

These are out of sync and late as I have been in a rather nice no computer zone - full service will be resumed soon......

April the 2nd 742 is believed by some sources to be the date of birth of Charlemagne.

Hans Christian Andersen was born on April the 2nd 1805 in Odense, Denmark. Again you may have to indulge me a little here. A friend is working on a book about children's stories past and present; we were discussing Andersen just last week. When I was little girl I won my one and only life time prize  - a copy of The Little Matchstick Girl.  I assume as I associate the story with the peak of my winning things career I've always been enormously fond of it, sad as it is. I always come back to the story at Christmas or when I see snow.

This image courtesy of Wikipedia is by Andersen's first illustrator, Vilhelm Pedersen:

Andersen  visited England is 1847, on this visit he met Charles Dickens. He would come back ten years later and stay with Dickens for a period of five weeks. Again from Wikipedia :

Right, rant alert - I'll try to keep it brief. Another of my literary Titans. Emile Zola was born on April the 2nd 1840 in Paris. Again I could  go on for pages and pages but I probably won't. I personally can't recommend his work enthusiastically enough - he was enormously prolific. If you are looking for a top tip you could try L'Assommoir or Le Ventre de Paris. He was a childhood friend of Paul Cezanne, a friendship that would continue thought out their adult careers. This wonderful image courtesy of  Wikipedia :

Again here:

1889 - in April the 2nd Charles Hall patented an inexpensive means of producing aluminium.

On April the 2nd 1935 the Scottish inventor Robert Watson-Watt received the patent for radar.

Sir Alec Guinness and William Holman Hunt were also born on April the 2nd - 1914 and 1824 respectively.

Today is the Feast Day of.

Friday, April 01, 2011

William Harvey, $$$, April Fools and Apple Inc

I had a quick look around for April Fools Day stuff - it is no doubt being done to death but this made me laugh - during the 18th & 19th centuries a popular prank was to invite people to the Washing of the Lions at the Tower of London. They fell for it !

Here is further information on the the Washing of the Lions and more on the  origin of April Fools Day from the marvellously named Museum of Hoaxes. There is an online Hoaxipedia. Before I looked into this I didn't know there was a Museum of Hoaxes. 

The physician William Harvey was born on April the 1st 1578. He described the systematic circulation and properties of blood. He had a very distinguished medical career and was made Physician Extraordinary  to King James in 1618. His great work De Motu Cordis was published in Frankfurt in 1628.

This fabulous image courtesy of Wikipedia is at the National Portrait Gallery.

Oliver Pollock  is said to have created the dollar sign on this day in 1778. $$$

Two young men named Steve started up a company called Apple on April the 1st 1976. Have a look here at the report in Time Magazine. Here is a link to the Apple Museum, this fabulous image, the first Apple logo,  courtesy of Wikipedia.

Right I'll step away from my Mac, pick up my iPhone.......

Milan Kundera and Ali MacGraw have a birthday today - 1929 and 1938.

Today is the Feast Day of  Saint Macarius the Wonder-Worker.

It's tempting to come up with an April Fools barmy recipe but I can't think of any, I saw an odd image of a French flower fish so I thought of fish - I love mackerel, I love beetroot and I love them together, here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Descartes, Haydn & The Eiffel Tower

King Henry II of France was born on March the 31st 1519  at the Chateau de Saint Germain en Laye.

The great philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes was born in the Indre et Loire on this day in 1596. He spent two years in Paris studying mathematics during which time he met members of influential Parisian society. He began a law degree but chose instead to leave for the Netherlands and volunteer in the Dutch Army. Image courtesy of Wikipedia and on display in the Louvre:

His famous A Discourse on Method, Meditations on First Philosophy was published in 1637. Again here courtesy of Wikipedia :

John Harrison was baptised on March the 31st 1693 in Foulby Yorkshire. There is more information on Harrison here from the National Maritime Museum.

The composer Joseph Haydn was born on March the 31st 1732.

On this day in 1889 the Eiffel Tower was dedicated, as a monument to the passing of a hundred years since the French Revolution. The link I've included is slightly the Eiffel Tower website.

The Saint with a Feast Day is Saint Benjamin.

This recipe for a Spring casserole sounds just right for today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goya, Anna Sewell, Van Gogh & Alaska

The American surgeon Dr Crawford Long first used diethyl either as an anaesthetic during an operation to remove a tumour on March the 30th 1842. In the United States National Doctors Day is celebrated in his honour.

Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1853 in Holland. He would go on to join his brother Theo,  a gallery curator in Paris, where he encountered numerous Impressionist artists, including Gaugin. He later relocated to Arles but was troubled throughout his short life by lack of confidence and mental illness. I love Van Gogh and have trouble selecting one of his paintings to illlustrate his birthday, in the end I went for this beautiful image, Starry Night courtesy of Wikipedia from The Museum of Modern Art in New York:

On March the 30th 1867 the United States signed an agreement to buy Alaska from Russia for $7,000,000. Thanks as ever to Wikipedia here is the cheque:

Anna Sewell and Paul Verlaine were both born on this day - 1820 and 1844.

Today is the Feast day of Saint Fergus.

I had the idea of making a fish soup. I was thinking of the various options - looking at The Colossus put me in a Spanish frame of mind - I found this from River Cottage.